Live Review from Underground Livestream #1:
3) What’s On Your Mind
5) Strange Memories
8) Auto Dreaming
9) Disco Dystopia (Encore)
Mainstays of the Hong Kong music scene, psychedelic quartet Shumking Mansion brought their distinct brand of funky disco synth-pop to global audiences at home via the innovation of a livestream.
Just like their individual sounds, the band members themselves don’t look like they should go together. With a pink, punky vocalist and guitarist, a bassist who channels the 70s with his zany hair and flared jeans, the mysterious top hat-clad keytarist (later revealed to be aggressively French), and a proud Canadian drummer, it comes as a surprise all these musical elements work in cohesion-even if they shouldn’t on paper.
First track Refugia launched us right into the delightful depths of Shumking Mansion’s oddity. Vocalist Zaid, donning a cutesy pink dress and a Telecaster to match, instantly seizes your attention. From the unruly head of manic grey hair (which I’m sure he doesn’t care to brush) to his classic rock powerhouse vocals, you cannot help but be entranced straight off the bat, and anticipatory of what is yet to come. Much like opening act Andy is Typing…, the Mansion tackled a few technical difficulties with ease, and didn’t let them get in the way of their performance.
As the disco punks slid into Mario, they continued to display their prowess of turning disparate sounds into a harmonious cacophony. From cowbells being used in percussion segments (courtesy of drummer Kent) to a slap-bass solo to the spotlight being shone on keytarist Jem, it is clear that a striking audio-visual interplay is of utmost importance to this band. They are an immersive experience, playful in their ability to be seriously unserious, and an utter joy to witness.
Motley Crüe vocals got a mainline dose of funk in What’s On Your Mind. Even the group’s on stage configuration defied the rock n roll norm, with bassist Shum taking centre stage instead of the vocalist. There is no frontman in Shumking Mansion; each member of the band is a frontman, each exuding a unique attitude which plays off their cohorts in a joyful celebration of sound, energy, and performance.
Distances saw the sound issues start to interfere more perceptibly, with Zaid’s guitar being rendered inaudible for almost the entirety of the song. Thankfully these issues were tended quickly, and the audience could enjoy a blistering solo to close out the tune. That wasn’t the last hurdle of the set, though, with Shum popping a bass string and swapping it out on stage during a brief interlude. Shout out to Andy from Andy Is Typing… for offering up his bass as a backup! We love to see band on band camaraderie.
Heralding our return from a segment break, Strange Memories had the in-house crew (and no doubt the audience at home) itching to get up for a dance. Sporting an 80s pop feel, the Mansion experimented with distortion, delay, and genre conflation. A groovy bass fill moved the song through transition, with drummer Kent assuming the role of vocalist and highlighting the aural dynamism which the band are known for.
A song “about going to outer space and not coming back the same…and also about love”, DD2K is demonstrably a Star Wars nerdgasm translated into music. It opened with emblematic Darth Vader line “You are my son!”, and what followed was a giddy exploration of Mansion’s experimental reach. With Kent taking the reins of lead vocals, the band used guitar and keyboard distortion to achieve futuristic sci-fi soundscapes, taking the viewers on a synth-heavy musical journey. Assuming a 60s-70s sci-fi aesthetic circa the likes of the original Star Trek series, we are immersed in a world of ray guns and robots and interplanetary travel, with Zaid’s guitar pedal and soundboard provided an impressive array of SFX.
Seventh track of the night Toadstool showcased the bass and percussion elements, the guitar playing second fiddle in yet another break from conventionality. This was closely followed by Auto Dreaming, a smooth jazz take on shoegaze which saw Kent and Zaid harmonising in a Bee Gees-esque move. As a motif guitar riff acted as a musical chorus, the bass playing around the root notes and jamming along with the keys and drums, somehow these standalone elements (which could be enjoyed discretely) summed up their vision: a dance party which requires all five senses to enjoy.
Wrapping up with a chaotic encore, Disco Dystopia had the whole studio up on their feet for a celebratory victory dance! Chris B and Andy Is Typing… (as well as the band managers) waved farewell as Shumking Mansion gave the livestream a proper send-off.
Live review from 15th Anniversary Party
******They didn’t provide the right setlist – theirs does not link up with my notes*******
New Wave of Sense
Orb of Fire
Disco Deathstar 2000
What’s On Your Mind?
Nearly five years after Shumking Mansion made their debut at The Underground, the colourful quartet headlined the 15th anniversary celebration of Hong Kong’s longest running music showcase. A tall order for any band – but Shumking rose to the challenge. With a relentless work ethic and boundless creativity, Shumking have moved the goalposts when it comes to being a bunch of foreigners performing music together in Hong Kong.
While the band haven’t quite been successful at translating their peculiarly compelling brand of psychedelic rock to record in the studio, their live shows have gained a reputation for unmissable mayhem – largely stemming from bassist (and band namesake) Shum’s energetic and unpredictable onstage antics. Crowds pack out whichever venue they play. It was no different at Grappa’s Cellar, where the dancefloor filled with undulating forms and those previously sat at tables got up to join in once the fun began.
The band’s provided setlist did not match the order of the songs they chose to perform onstage; frustrating for a reviewer yet redolent of a group for whom improvisation and elements of surprise are key to their appeal. Classic Shumking tracks New Wave of Sense and What’s On Your Mind arrived early in the set feeling like old friends that had been beefed up for the night: while the latter song benefitted from more intricate guitar parts, the added 90s house-style piano didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the arrangement.
With his tophat, shades, huge beard and white Roland keytar, pianist Jean-Emmanuel has long been the focal point of the band, yet their fourth Underground appearance showed greater balance between the synths and guitar, making for tracks that felt more fully fleshed-out. Singer and guitarist Zaid had clearly been working on his playing technique, which came to the fore in newer songs like No Shoes and Mario. His rock sensibility gave an anchoring structure to Jean-Emmanuel’s wilder and more lavish synth noodlings, which, happily, never fell short of sounding ridiculously and extravagantly cheesy.
The instrumental Disco Deathstar 2000 was a particular highlight, simulating a battle in outer space with haywire synths, stomping rhythms and the kind of zapping guitar effects Matt Bellamy would be proud of. Then, Auto-Dreaming played around with something more akin to the modern psychedelic sounds of Connan Mockasin or Tame Impala, with a rather emotionally arresting mix of high fretwork glimmers over a duelling synth and bass. “We won,” someone said as the chaotic noise melted away.
Newer track Orb of Fire combined video game bleeps and bloops with a slap bass interlude and a 60s guitar solo, and gave drummer Kent a chance to belt out some dramatic 80s power rock lyrics into the mic. Shum limbered up like an 80s aerobics instructor for surf rock closer, Toadstool, which closed out with a pitch-bending keytar solo.
The chameleonic show was not without slipshod sections, with slurred or off-key lyrics still letting down the overall production, but Shumking’s star power on the city’s indie scene is undeniable, and the band’s eccentricity and pure bonkers presence was a perfectly joyous finale to a diverse birthday celebration.
– El Jay
Live Review from The Underground x InterNations:
1. Big muff Mowgli
2. A New Wave of Sense
6. A Discovery
8. What’s on your Mind?
9. Otto Dreamin
10. What’s on your Mind (encore)
With a top hat and green shades, SKM synth player makes quite an impression before he’s even played a note. Somewhere between 70s prog and the alternative dance tent at a festival, the crowd is initially confused. Are they songs? Or one long, trippy workout?
The answer is kind of both, but once you understand this, and just go with it, the keys to the SK mansion are yours. And it’s worth the admission. This a seriously funky outfit, with tracks that just make you want to get up and boogie. There’s certainly a whole lot of boogying going on tonight.
It’s difficult to place them musically as style tracks changes song to song. At one point I heard influences of Cold War Kids, at other times more of a an acid vibe. Either way it’s infectious stuff. The singer can definitely sing while the cat in the hat adds layers of gloopy synth goodness.
And while there were points where it seems songs will never end, the audience clearly didn’t want them to anyway. Towards the end of the set the singer tried to organise a singalong, with mixed results, and halfway through their encore half the band took their shirts off. Job done!
– Dan Creffield
Live review from Summer of Music:
4. New wave of sense
5. A discovery
6. Eternally indifferent
7. Traveling soul psychedelia
8. What’s on your mind
隨著迷離旋律，身體感官不知不覺就墮入ShumKing Mansion的迷幻音樂世界。主音帶點懶慵慵的唱腔令人放下戒備，腦袋放空，由Keytar作旋律主導，加上突出的貝斯和鼓點所強調的節拍，冷不防就被他們的舞曲攻陷，不由自主的跟著節奏舞動起來。ShumKing Mansion擅長以節拍及Keytar豐富的音色控制現場的氣氛和表達樂曲的意境，樂曲節奏精彩多變，時而放慢，時而輕快。而主音亦會隨著樂曲以不同的唱腔演繹，時而迷離夢幻，時而玩味十足，營造出他們獨有的音樂空間。樂曲多以跳躍的dance rock為主，而樂隊成員們亦非常樂於跟台下樂迷交流，經常跳到台下跟樂迷一起跳動，令現場的氣氛更高漲，感受到樂隊、樂曲跟觀眾之間的一體感。
– Jacqueline Tang
In just a few months, ShumKing Mansion – previously described as a “drunken tour group on holiday in Ibiza” – have evolved from beach bar boogie-makers to one of the most mesmeric new acts on the HK circuit. Increasingly better attended live shows have bolstered the band’s confidence in their niche musical style, and it seems they’ve stopped messing around after realizing, they’re making noise that crowds dig.
The four-piece blends psychedelic elements into electronic tracks with a classic rock structure. It’s a combination that wouldn’t work if all four members weren’t competent musicians in their own right. And, unlike many electro outfits, having live drums and bass helps too: a solid, driving rhythm underpins each wavering melody and gives backbone to some of the more tripped-out guitar and pitch-bending key noodlings.
Third on the bill at The Underground’s last hoorah at Backstage, Shumking reach their stride quickly, soaking the venue with a compelling grunge mutation of reference points as far removed as Pink Floyd, Shy Child and Kasiabian. Frontman and guitarist Zaid scans the crowd, daring onlookers not to move to the funky disco rock-meets-nu-wave electro pulsing from the stage. By the end of the third song there wasn’t a hip in the house not undulating in synch.
‘Travelling Soul Psychedelia’ and ‘A New wave of Sense’, and ‘A Discovery’ sparkle in a busy setlist, and keytarist Jean-Emmanuel programs his white Roland to the “sitar” setting for new song ‘Bollywood’, a glittering blend of eastern influence and snake-hipped city electronica.
Despite retaining the holiday camp image – the neon shades, the flowery shirts, the trademark top hat – onstage shenanigans have tapered now there are enough songs to fill a full set. Nevertheless, idiosyncratic bassist Shum goes down a storm when he leaps off the stage with the giddy dancing Shumking shows are famed for.
Devo without the pop discipline; Nirvana without the overdriven guitar – they’re pushing the boundaries of music without pushing the decibels, and having a hell of a good time with it.
– El Jay
Live Review from Underground 114
1. Trippy Jimmy
2. Traveling Soul Psychedelia
3. A Discovery
4. Eternally Indifferent
5. Nirvana Trippy
6. What’s On Your Mind?
The next band walked on stage looking like a drunk tour group on holiday in Ibiza; lots of painfully flowery shirts and sunglasses, and a keytar whose keytarist could pass for Zach Galifinakis in poor lighting conditions. However, they drew a big crowd and their crowd knew what to do; they danced their legs off. And why not; Shumking Mansion (the famous name adapted to that of their bassist’s) is a dancey band, and I don’t just mean in terms of music. Pretty much throughout the set, the bassist was on the floor kicking and dancing with the audience, and everyone else on stage maintained a steady energetic jig throughout as well. There’s an element of the new-wave synthpoppy danciness to their music, and a lot of disco beats as well. This was the background against which they basically took a different genre for every song and interpreted it as a disco poppy song; the best example of this is Nirvana Trippy, which took a sort of 1994-era Soundgarden to start and mixed it In Utero-era Nirvana but with danceable beats and a non-depressing motif. Now, being something of a grunge purist myself, this was not to my taste and I prefer the likes of the Presidents of the USA to reinterpreting grunge in this way; however I was very much on my own as the crowd bloody loved it (and I’ll admit, I can very much see/hear why).
Traveling Soul Psychedelia actually saw a flamenco dancer come on stage for a while to dance with its vaguely bluesy sound, while A Discovery was a very Noughties rock song with hints of Kasabian, the Killers, and Kings of Leon, and What’s On Your Mind? was like a glam rock song that went beyond the 4/4 beat, so they’ve got a good mix going. Their singer has a very pleasant and radio-ready pop-friendly voice, but I must say he’s an excellent guitarist with a wide range of styles under his command. Traveling Soul Psychedelia opened with a guitar bit that could easily have been composed by Hendrix and anyone who can do that ought to be lauded. Still, the dancey side of things escapes me, they’re a tight outfit who seem to really be able to entertain a friendly crowd (judging by their music, though, this is likely to be the case with almost any crowd they’ll encounter in HK). I will say, though, that I felt a lot of their songs went on for too long with too much repetition at the end, and might be worth some judicious editing. Still, they gave a great performance, and were properly enjoyable to listen to and if you’re the dancing type you’re almost certain to enjoy them.
— Shashwati Kala
時至11月8日， 天氣雖未至嚴寒，但秋風已將夏天的暑氣吹走得一乾二凈。可是ShumKing Masion四子的粉紅碎花dress code卻將夏季的熱情帶回給The Underground #114的觀眾。Shumk Mansion的名字聽起來有點奇怪，但原來ShumKing是樂隊bass手的名字，看來這位bass手是樂隊非常重要的一員。的確，無論在音樂上還是表演氣氛上，ShumKing都令樂隊生色不少。彈跳感強烈的bass line令歌曲<What’s On Your Mind>調皮且活潑。另一方面，富音樂感的主音在處理rock ‘n’ roll 和blues rock風格的歌曲<Travelling Soul Psychedelic>和<Nirvana Trippy>時表現都游刃有餘，帶領觀眾合唱時更有老牌歌手的風範。身穿燕尾服和禮帽的Keyboard手為歌曲添上一層迷幻氣氛。四人合奏的音樂揉合了rock and roll，blues rock和一點Franz Ferdinand式dance rock風格，有些歌曲如<Eternally Indifference>亦不乏流行元素， 容易上口。表演風格上， ShumKing Mansion可算是當晚娛樂性最高的樂隊，他們非常享受和觀眾互動，ShumKing經常跳到台下，身體配合著自己彈出的節奏和觀眾一起跳舞。主音亦時常帶領觀眾拍手和合唱，在第三首歌<A Discovery>更邀請友人上台跳了一少節十分精彩的Mingo。不單台上活潑，四人在台下作為樂迷觀看其他樂隊演出時亦十分活躍。他們與友人不時帶頭moshing，令現場氣氛高漲不少。屬於夏日的粉紅碎花dress code果然跟他們的音樂風格和性格都十分相襯.